Facing My Fears: Teaching STEM to Kindergartners

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

Do you ever wonder how you get yourself into some things?

That’s exactly what I was thinking when I stepped in front of 21 kindergartners to teach a lesson I developed with the video camera rolling. I planned on challenging myself and embracing my year of growth mindset and learning from taking risks. I was both excited and terrified by the opportunity to bring my love of STEM to the small scientists.

Did I mention that I have NEVER taught kindergarten before?

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Flipping the Lens: Finding New Perspective On Delivering Quality PD

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

Did I just say that… and do I really sound like that?

I’ve always been told I look and sound exactly like my younger sister, just with darker hair. I’m still not convinced we look alike, but after listening to my most recent presentation, it easily could’ve been my sister speaking. Scary!

Even more frightening is the wording I chose and the stammering that occurred throughout my delivery of the professional learning.

Those poor teachers.

Without the close vetting of this “unwanted” video, I’d never have realized how much I needed to improve. Sometimes “looking in the mirror” can hurt.

To be 100% truthful, I’m considered the “face” of our school district and I conduct numerous interviews that are then streamed on our local cable channel and on our district YouTube channel. How many of those interviews have I watched to see how I can improve on the next, you ask? ZERO!

It’s time to change my paradigm and realize that video self-reflection can be one of the most valuable tools we have as educators. Here’s my most recent glimpse of my reflection.

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Video Self-Reflection: A Close Read of My Classroom

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

A teacher can learn a lot by taking a close read of the classroom.

However, the pace of a typical school day doesn’t allow for much time to step back and take it all in. That’s why video is a great tool to help teachers understand what’s really happening in the classroom as students engage in learning activities.

In the videos I collected of students, I began to notice there was a pattern to their conversations. Based upon the task at hand, my role was to be a facilitator. As teachers embark into NGSS territory, it will become more obvious that students are highly engaged in their tasks. They’re excited and need help making sense of their thinking.

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Tch DIY: Learning Together Through Math Routines

Math Routines with Kristin Gray

I couldn’t be more excited about the launch of this Teaching Channel project — it’s so near and dear to my heart. Over the past five years, much of my work in the classroom and with teachers has centered around math routines that generate student discourse and help us learn more about our students’ understandings. All of this work has been inspired by books I’ve read, conversations with colleagues in person and on Twitter, and the amazing student mathematical discussions I’ve heard, sparked by these routines. With this project, I have the opportunity to share all of the hard work of my colleagues, showcase the safe culture they have established in their classrooms, and highlight all of the wonderful mathematical ideas of their students.

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Adjusting Our ELL Course: Watch Out for the Curves!

The Big TentThe Yakima School District embarked on an adventure in August of the 2015-2016 school year. We began a cohort of teachers who wanted to learn how to use video to improve their instruction of English Language Learners. Like most adventures in education, this looked like a relatively straight road. We soon found out that it was filled with crazy bends, steep climbs, rapid descents, and radical hairpin turns.

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New Harvard Toolkit Supports Using Video to Refine Practice

As many of you know, at Teaching Channel we regularly develop videos to show examples of classroom practices and showcase a collection of techniques.

Tch Theory of Professional LearningHowever, what you might not be as familiar with is our philosophy of using video to reflect on and refine practice. As such, we wanted to share with you our video-based coaching cycle, which provides a process for using video in a plan-do-study-act cycle of learning. That is, a way to try a new practice in your classroom, capture video of implementation, and evaluate the impact on student learning.

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On the Road: Find Teaching Channel Teams at ASCD

Teaching Channel at ASCD 2014
The Teaching Channel Teams crew is heading to ASCD. This year’s ASCD conference theme is Every Learner: Someday is Now. Teams will be there showcasing our social and video-enabled professional development platform for schools, districts and education organizations.

Stop by our booth, number 1623. Say hello, see Teams in action, get some Teams goodies, and enter our raffle for a chance to win a SWIVL™.

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Video In Your Classroom: Tips for Filming and Editing

Whether you’re recording your own practice for self-reflection, or putting together a student lesson to “flip” your class, here are tips for making sure you capture and produce great material:

Keep the camera still. The action in your shot should be what the camera films. With the exception of a little panning and tilting to keep the subject in frame, let the camera be a quiet observer. A shaky or constantly zooming camera is a huge distraction from the teaching message.

Tch Video Tip

Capture multiple views. If you can, try using two cameras with different viewpoints. It makes a world of difference later when you can cut back and forth between them depending on the context of the video. One camera could be focused wide on you and your whiteboard, while the other is zoomed in to only see you, as a simple example.

Get the specific shot. If your video is covering something small, get up close so we can see it. You’ll lose the viewer with a shot that is too far or wide to see what you’re talking about, or if you zoom in and the result is a shaky shot. Look into a lens adapter kit if you are using a smartphone. That, in turn, may require that you mount the device. I like the magnetic Gorillapod as a catch-all mount for a small camera or smartphone.

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Video in the Classroom: Equipment Checklist

Teaching has always been visual, but what was once communicated on fusty overhead slide projectors or whiteboards that get erased, is now distributed to students in full HD video that they can review whenever and wherever they need. And whether you’re using video in the classroom for personal reflection, or to create new content for your students, it has never been easier to give video a go.

What Equipment Do You Need to Get Started?

Of course, you know about digital camcorders, but if you’d like to get classroom technology that has multiple uses in a classroom, here are some of the tools that will make the task of creating great visual lessons easy and impactful (check out part 2 of this blog and get tips on filming and editing):

Notebook Computers


On the verge of outselling all forms of personal computers combined, no device has ushered in the era of the visual classroom more than the tablet. Tablets are screen-centric and intuitively touch-driven. They are great capture and playback devices, and do a pretty good job of media editing and graphics composition.

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